Thor: Ragnarok aims to change up the formula for Marvel's Asgardian trilogy. Directed by breakout director Taika Waititi (the man behind Flight of the Conchords, What We Do in the Shadows, and Hunt for the Wilderpeople) and bringing the long-anticipated Planet Hulk arc to the screen (in some form), it's a lot more than just another trip to Asgard.
For one, it's also going to be a Jurassic Park reunion. In addition to featuring Jeff Goldblum (who is playing The Grandmaster, the gladiatorial overseer who will pit the God of Thunder against the Green Goliath), Waititi is bringing over his Wilderpeople star and former on-screen paleontologist Sam Neill. Since his casting in September, it's been unclear what role Neill has in the film or even how big it is (he was added during filming, which suggests it won't be a major part). However, a new rumor says it could be an appearance that has far-reaching effects for the MCU (potential spoilers for Thor: Ragnarok).
A recent 4Chan post (care of Screen Geek) has shared a list of intriguing casting notes for the upcoming Phase 3 slate that alleges Neill is playing The Trader. An immensely skilled negotiator with immense power, Cort Zo Tinnus is a part of the Marvel Universe's sprawling cosmic arm, which is slowly becoming a more predominant part of the movies ahead of Avengers: Infinity War.
It's worth pointing out that 4Chan rumors are notoriously hit-and-miss - for every spot on leak there's something ridiculously far-fetched - and that most of the other casting reveals in the supposed leak are safe guesses; no bonus points for thinking there's two Shockers in Spider-Man: Homecoming, Andy Serkis is returning for Black Panther and "all mainline heroes from the MCU" will appear in Infinity War. However, that Neill is named as The Trader is still very intriguing given how the MCU is currently expanding.
In the comics, The Trader was an Elder of the Universe, a group of survivors of extinct races able to access the Power Primordial (residual energy from the Big Bang). If Neill is indeed playing Tinnus, this would make him the fourth of the supervillain group seen on screen - the first three were The Collector (in Thor: The Dark World and Guardians of the Galaxy), Ego (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2) and The Grandmaster. This flurry of introductions would suggest that Marvel is slowly setting up this group as a screen presence, possibly even a future threat. The direction of the MCU post-Infinity War is currently unknown - most of the foreshadowing so far has been heavily focused on that epic showdown - so it would make sense to start seeding Phase 4 and beyond around about now.
In the short term, this would presumably put Neill as an obstacle in Thor's mission to get back to Asgard and stop Cate Blanchett's Hela from bringing Ragnarok (the Asgardian apocalypse) down on his home. Given their Elders connection, this would probably relate to The Grandmaster in some form. That's right, if this is true we may actually get to see Neill and Goldblum on screen together again.
There's a lot of other details in the leak, including several major ones relating to Infinity War. The other two key Ragnarok rumors are the returns of Zachary Levi as Fandral and Josh Brolin as Thanos. While the Mad Titan hasn't been directly confirmed to be in the film, as we last saw Thor heading back to Asgard to investigate the Infinity Stones it does make a lot of sense for the being hunting them down to appear.
Source: 4Chan (via ScreenGeek)
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) release date: May 05, 2017
- Black Panther (2018) release date: Feb 16, 2018
- Avengers: Infinity War / The Avengers 3 (2018) release date: Apr 27, 2018
- The Avengers 4 / Untitled Avengers Movie (2019) release date: May 03, 2019
- Ant-Man & The Wasp (2018) release date: Jul 06, 2018
- Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019